The basketball gods have spoken. Just when we thought all hope was lost for the New Orleans Pelicans, the franchise landed the No. 1 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. While a generational talent may be coming to town, Zion Williamson won’t keep Anthony Davis in a Pelicans uniform.
Now that the Pelicans are in position to land Duke freshman Zion Williamson with the No. 1 overall pick of the 2019 NBA Draft, many believe New Orleans has what it takes to get Anthony Davis to change his mind.
The Pelicans do have a few pieces in their favor. Zion is being proclaimed as the first certified superstar to come into the league since LeBron James. He averaged 22.6 points and 8.9 rebounds per game in his lone season at Duke. His dominant dunks provide a glimpse of the level of skill and star power that the 6’7” forward possesses. Teaming up with the rookie phenom has to be some level of appealing for Anthony Davis.
If the Brow decides to stay in New Orleans, the six-time All Star would also have a different front office. The Pelicans hired former Cleveland Cavaliers executive, David Griffin, as the executive vice president of basketball operations. Perhaps the new regime can convince Davis to give it a trial run.
With the combination of Anthony Davis and Zion Williamson, Jrue Holiday has premium offensive options as he runs the point. Julius Randle can focus on being a workhorse. The remaining roster may include revolving pieces, but the front office has its work cut out for them in finding suitable talent.
The truth is, while all of this sounds well and good, Davis went through a lot last season. He’s grown tired of playing in New Orleans. He made that clear. He thought he was being traded to his dream destination in the Los Angeles Lakers. The front office was in stubborn mode at the time.
The pettiness reached an all-time high when the NBA forced the organization to play a healthy Davis. The result was limited second half action, even when games were on the line. No matter how good Zion is projected to be, he may not be enough to heal that wound between Davis and the Pelicans.
Zion is projected to be great. But can Anthony Davis really bet his future on the expectations for an 18-year-old kid? Davis is a seven-year veteran who has only participated in 13 playoff games in his career. He can’t afford to gamble the remainder of his prime on a player who has yet to prove himself at the highest level of basketball. There’s an adjustment period that comes with joining the ranks of the NBA. Even if it only takes Williamson two years to figure out how to excel in the league, those are two very vital years of Davis’ career.
It seems like it makes more sense for the Brow to stick to his original idea. It’s been reported that he wants to join LeBron in L.A. for almost a year. Betting on a proven, three-time NBA champion is the right move at this stage of his career.
Anyone who thinks the No. 1 lottery pick will keep Anthony Davis in New Orleans is looking at this all wrong. This Pelicans have an opportunity to come out of a difficult situation as a winner. New Orleans has instantly found a new face of the franchise. There’s a ton of uncertainty surrounding the Lakers that could work in the Pelicans’ favor in an AD trade.
A deal with the Lakers could put Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma on a Pelicans roster with Zion Williamson, as well as the No. 4 overall pick in this year’s draft and maybe future picks stacked on top. That’s not a bad outlook for a team that needed to start over the moment Davis wanted out. It will only cost them a player that will surely leave in free agency next summer anyway.
The wrong move is trying to force a guy to stay when he’s already made his intentions clear. If Anthony Davis is in a Pelicans uniform to start next season, he’ll be responsible for mentoring a young Zion Williamson. Zion would have to be overwhelmingly prepared, the Pelicans would have to emerge as Western contenders and if that didn’t happen, they’d then have to deal him in a rush at the trade deadline — for less than full value — to avoid losing him for nothing in free agency.
Do the Pelicans really want the future of the franchise under the tutelage of someone who’s already looking to get out? It sounds like a recipe for disaster, and New Orleans has all the tools to avoid it.